Terrifier / Northern Lights

From found footage and zombie flicks, to pretentious art house psychological slow burns and everything in between, I love all types of horror. But as a child my love affair of horror began with slashers. Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street were all movies I could watch endlessly. I grew up in a time when you couldn't pick up a milk carton without seeing an innocent headshot of the latest child abduction victim. The fear was so ingrained that I was convinced one day I'd be kidnapped and murdered by some psychotic maniac (ala Voorhees or Myers). So yeah, slashers struck a chord. And that's not even taking into consideration the nightmares those movies would induce. Ahhh, horror... the gift that keeps on giving.

When Terrifier popped up in my Netflix recommended queue, I immediately took notice of the provocative thumbnail featuring a deranged clown. From the trailer, Terrifier looked to be the movie I didn't even realize I needed in my life. A slasher that really leaned into the over-the-top gory death sequences and practical effects that riddled 80's slasher flicks. What I got was something even more glorious and outrageous than I could've ever imagined. But before I jump into what makes Terrifier a slasher that should hold a spot among the greats, let's talk weed.

I had just scored a strain that I've been on the lookout for and was pretty excited to give it go. Northern Lights is a pure indica that descends from the Afghani landrace strain. Forest green buds are covered in trichomes with orange hairs braided throughout. After packing a bowl and inhaling a modest rip I quickly noticed that while there is a faint sweetness on the backend, flavors are more earthy with hints of pine and hops. As for its effects, Northern Lights hits fairly fast as I was able to feel its relaxing sedative effects within a handful of minutes.

I stumbled through my nighttime ritual of washing up, brushing my teeth and slipping into my pajamas in a weed-induced stupor. I managed to press play and strapped in for an evening of unbridled horror. Terrifier comes to us from writer/director Damien Leone who's no stranger to horror fans. And while this movie features Art the Clown, it wasn't the first time audiences were introduced to him. Damien has been slowly building a loose mythology around the psychotic clown. Art, first played by Mike Giannelli, made his debut in The 9th Circle, a short film Damien wrote and directed back in 2008. In 2011 he and Giannelli came back in another short film, also titled Terrifier. But most horror fans didn't learn of Art until 2013 when Damien released the anthology All Hallows Eve. Five years later, Art the Clown is back, this time being played by David Howard Thornton. And he's even more brutal than before.

First things first, Terrifier is clearly not for every horror fan. This movie is catered toward a specific type of junkie - those raised on pointless over-the-top gore. If you're looking for story, character development, origin, motive, or any shred of insight, look elsewhere. Even Voorhees and Myers had a backstory and reason for choosing their victims. Art is a homicidal maniac in the truest sense. How does Art choose his victims? Who knows. And honestly, who cares? From what I gather, he chooses his victims because they're there. Simple as that. Terrifier is an homage to all the great slashers from the 80's. But it's not just the gore and practical effects that give it that vibe. Even the cinematography and post-production color grading drip with 80's nostalgia.
How does Art choose his victims? Who knows. And honestly, who cares?
The movie begins with two young women Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) heading out to grab some food after leaving a Halloween party. Along the way, they encounter Art. Things take a turn for the worst when Dawn ironically flirts with him against Tara's better judgement. From that point, it's all downhill. Determined to kill both of them before the night is done, Art systematically stalks and terrorizes Tara and Dawn while murdering any helpless bystander who happens to intersect along the way. And that about sums up Terrifier in a nutshell! Okay, obviously there's more, but quite frankly the in-between parts are just an excuse to loosely tie all the brutal bits together. And brutal they are!

Terrifier is the perfect movie to watch stoned. Since there isn't a twisting complex plot (let alone any plot for that matter) to pay attention to, I was able to simply let myself melt into my mattress and soak up all the blood spattered mess with my eyeballs. For those curious about the death scenes, Art does not disappoint. Case in point, I consider myself fairly jaded when it comes to gore, but even I became squeamish and shielded my eyes during one particular death scene. I'll refrain from spoilers, but you'll know exactly which one I'm talking about after you watch it. It's so disturbing that when discussing Terrifier with friends who've seen it, we simply refer to it as "the scene". It's gory, it's bloody, it's over-the-top and it's spectacular! Add cannabis into the mix and that scene is elevated to some truly mind-blowing levels.

So what's the takeaway? As I expressed earlier, Terrifier isn't for everyone. There are no lessons to be learned here. No twist ending. No "ah ha" moment where Art's true motives are revealed. This movie is a punch straight to the kidneys. And while Art may not have the backstory or motive of the 80's slashers he pays homage to, I believe he deserves a spot on the shelf right there with them. He's demented, frightening to look at, and offers up some beautifully creative murders. But that's just my opinion. How about you? Have you watched Terrifier or tried Northern Lights? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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